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This May Be General Russell Westbrook’s Last Stand In The NBA Switch And Hedge For 4/25

Chris Spags

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Glory be to the basketball Gods, we’ve got ourselves FOUR big playoff games tonight, a few possible (according to Vegas, probable) series enders, and a whole bunch of guys with unique opportunities to fill out your daily fantasy sports rosters. It is truly a blessed day for those of us who have been working the NBA player coal mines every day trying to pan for gold with the Derrick Roses and Ty Lawsons of the world.

But first: Don’t forget to join our exclusive contest on Playline tonight where if you correctly guess the lines of Jimmy Butler, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden you can legitimately win $1 million. Or, if you’re not perfect, win $1,000 by taking down the tournament. Join now and get a free $5 just for signing up along with a bonus if you deposit and compete against me, Awesemo, Josh Engleman, Jake, and the rest of the gang tonight. Get on board now at http://playline.com/r/awesemo.

Check back on Awesemo’s rankings and ownership projections throughout the day for some helpful information to build your lineups tonight before I go live before lock at 6PM Eastern with Josh Engleman on the Awesemo YouTube channel. And without further adieu, onto the slate:

Washington Wizards (104.5 implied points, +0.6 on their last 10 games) at Toronto Raptors (111.5 implied points, +3.5 on their last 10 games)

John Wall is officially Expensive As Hell on both sites and there’s going to be a tough decision to make tonight between him and Russell Westbrook fighting for his playoff life in Oklahoma City. More on that to come but, crazily, I’m okay with this price for John Wall. There’s a logic to fading him given that this is his highest price of the year but he’s been simply crushing lately and playing with a real sense of purpose, consistency and effectiveness that he’s lacked throughout his career. Bradley Beal is in a similar position and since whatever hashing out he, Wall, and coach Scott Brooks did after Game 2, Beal has been a stellar player in real life and fantasy. He’s a little riskier than Wall given his previous struggles in Toronto but I like Beal tonight. Otto Porter is getting a ton of minutes without the usage to show for it, as has often been the case with Wall on the floor this year. I don’t mind him at a price that picks up an A value grade from Awesemo but he’s not a must-have. Kelly Oubre and Marcin Gortat both look like low ceiling plays with a decent floor around 5x that can help you from a lineup construction standpoint, but not much more. Mike Scott should still be viable as his minutes cut last time out was due to picking up a quick two fouls in the first half. There’s some risk given how little run he in the second half relative to other games but he seems like an acceptable flyer otherwise.

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Given the team total, I would want someone from the Raptors in my lineups tonight and there are a couple of interesting options. Jonas Valanciunas ceded some minutes to Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam in Game 4 and I’m into the idea of him coming out angry at home to assert himself. He strikes me as a play that will be lower owned and with some risk but that rebound and scoring upside that he possesses could be a key tonight. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are the real plays here though with both being super steady plays recently with DeRozan in particular posting an outrageous 47% usage rate trying to pick up the Game 4 win in Washington. Both guys still have room to grow with their prices given how many shots they’ve missed. Fred VanVleet practiced on Tuesday and should be closer to a go for tonight although he’s currently a game-time decision. I’m not sure how many minutes he’ll get and if it’ll be enough for VanVleet to be of consequence but you’ve seen what he can do in short bursts all year. He should be on your radar if you’re playing a bunch of lineups. I could see being intrigued by Poeltl but, again, I’m really thinking it’s more of a Jonas night from a game theory and motivation perspective. I could also see wanting to play Serge Ibaka given his price…him snagging 10 boards and still not hitting value last time out would make me a bit apprehensive. DeRozan and Lowry are the shot takers here and it’s hard to see that pivoting back to Ibaka in a relatively do-or-die game at home.

Indiana Pacers (99.5 implied points, -4.4 on their last 10 games) at Cleveland Cavaliers (106 implied points, -0.4 on their last 10 games)

This series has been more of a slog than one would expect but the Pacers are playing at the pace that they think gives them a chance to win so there’s a logic there. Victor Oladipo seems like the best chance to overcome the slog and after two godawful shooting games, he seems overdue for some regression to the mean. He’s hard to trust but he’s another guy who has gigantic upside if things break his way. Thad Young has been a dawg since they took him off LeBron and allowed him the cushier gig of working mostly on Kevin Love. I see no issue looking his way again. Myles Turner has been unable to produce at all this series but his price is super appealing, earning him an A value in Awesemo’s rankings. Darren Collison gunned last time with George Hill out, shooting 5-for-14 in the process. If Hill is out, that would make Collison similarly appealing again. Bojan Bogdanovic has been a hit or miss play and your guess is as good as mine as to whether he hits or misses tonight. The shots are there so I don’t hate him but I don’t have the love for him I have for Thad Young. Lance Stephenson and Domantas Sabonis are getting enough minutes to be useful but not enough run to fully trust them. It wouldn’t shock me to see one of them on a GPP winning squad but I would find it hard to bank on them if you’re not playing a ton of lineups.

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LeBron James is at the highest price on the slate and it’s going to be a tough one to roster given the tightness of playoff pricing. I like him as a play but paying so much for him when you have a comparable upside in John Wall or Russell Westbrook (at least theoretically) seems like a tough one to navigate. Kevin Love is hilariously overdue for a good game but the Pacers may just have his number. His price is tough to ignore tonight given his upside and how the Cavs need him to pull more weight to avoid going down 3-2. JR Smith looks okay even though I really never like playing him personally and Kyle Korver is another solid play with some risk given his points dependence. Everything else here seems iffy at best.

Minnesota Timberwolves (101.75 implied points, -3.5 on their last 10 games) at Houston Rockets (114.25 implied points, +11 on their last 10 games)

Vegas seems to think Houston is going to blow Minnesota off the court to clinch the series so that alone is going to raise some eyebrows after so many Wolves seemed to pack it in during Game 4. Jeff Teague was deeply affected by a dislocated finger but played horrendously before that. He seems like a good play with him not on the injury report, currently projected as a B in points and value in Awesemo’s rankings, though I wonder how the game will shake out for him with Tom Thibodeau seemingly taking a shine to the resurgent Derrick Rose. The idea of paying $4,600 for Derrick Rose on DraftKings doesn’t appeal to me but for $4,000 on FanDuel, sure I get it. Rose might be useful tonight but a lot of his run was due to Teague’s injury and the blowout in Game 4. I have to imagine Jimmy Butler will bring it tonight but honestly I’d much rather figure out how to get to DeMar DeRozan or Kyle Lowry given the difference in team totals and chance of a blowout here. Karl-Anthony Towns hit value despite picking up two quick fouls in the first three minutes of action. He should be able to do it again unless he totally phones it in tonight. Andrew Wiggins dudded hard with 50% ownership in Game 4 but his shots were there. I’m alright with him tonight but it’s hard to feel so enthusiastic about anyone on the side after Houston seemingly broke their backs with that 50 point third quarter in the last game. That logic though may a reason to consider the Wolves more seriously; there are a lot of guys on this side with appealing spots and prices and if they somehow stay competitive despite Vegas’s projections, you’ll be getting guys with very nice ceilings at lower ownerships than they deserve.

The Rockets are likely to smoke the Wolves tonight though so it’s safer to play the expected outcome. To get there, it’s likely going to be James Harden and Chris Paul shouldering the load. Paul in particular should be carrying a lot of momentum from his last performance where he really drove that historic 50-point quarter. Clint Capela was also a stud in that game but he’s shown some brutal downside if a game doesn’t break his way. I like him but I’m not crazy about him at his price. Trevor Ariza and Eric Gordon are both fine mid-priced guys to help you spend on some of the stars but Gordon strikes me as the better play of the two. Gordon’s put up a ton of shots for his price and it wouldn’t shock me if he drives some offense to help the Rockets hit that aggressive team total.

Utah Jazz (102 implied points, -7.8 on their last 10 games) at Oklahoma City Thunder (105.5 implied points, -7.1 on their last 10 games)

The Ricky Rubio/Russell Westbrook pseudofeud came to an end last time out after Westbrook played super aggressive in limiting Rubio early, picking up four first-half fouls in the process and leading to this hilarious post-game retort:

Yeah Russ, now it’s not about you two after Ricky Rubio owned your ass yet again. Rubio started slow but came back to fall just short of hitting value. I have no issue rolling him out there today. Donovan Mitchell was an even better play in the last game and while his price is uncomfortable, a C value in Awesemo’s rankings, he’s been steady while also flashing a tremendous ceiling. Joe Ingles has continued to excel with “Playoff P” Paul George eschewing his self-given nickname to avoid playing defense as the series has spiraled out of control. Rudy Gobert looks like a fine play with a solid chance at hitting 5x after a down last game while Derrick Favors isn’t doing it for me tonight now that we have more options. Jae Crowder and Royce O’Neal got extra run last game seemingly as a response to the chippy play of the series with the Jazz needing a little toughness. Both guys looked good last time and, while I wouldn’t bank on it, both guys should have a shot to get that run again tonight given how feisty both teams have been with the Thunder getting beaten at every turn this series.

Russell Westbrook is a top option on the slate with his price at one of its lowest points all year. He should be one of the higher owned players tonight because of that. I think he can get you to 5x but there may be better ways to build a lineup tonight without him. Paul George is shooting 20 times a game so there’s no problem with rolling him out there at his price. Carmelo Anthony is also shooting a ton, although he had some additional issues besides his normal missing every open shot courtesy of Crowder’s D in the last matchup. Corey Brewer lost minutes to Jerami Grant last game and I’m not trusting him tonight given his already limited upside. I’m not looking to the Raymond Feltons of the world on this team with a brutal total so stick to Russ, PG, and Carmelo or consider Steven Adams if you’re a sucker for mediocre performances by guys with great likable profiles written about them this week.

And there we have it, four more games in the books! Follow me on Twitter @ChrisSpags, tune into our live before lock show tonight at 6PM Eastern where we’ll be talking NBA and MLB and good luck out there!

Chris Spags is the senior director of editorial strategy at Awesemo.com and contributes to the site's NBA, NFL, and MLB coverage as a writer and host of video content. Chris's content background from sites like Guyism, Uproxx, and Barstool Sports allows him to bring a unique spin to the world of daily fantasy sports analysis. Chris writes regular columns with NBA and NFL analysis as well as his inimitable style and his 'Four Corners' videos for basketball, baseball, and football DFS are the primary short form content offering on Awesemo's YouTube channel. You can find him on almost any given night providing analysis right up to slate lock on Awesemo's flagship Live Before Lock livestreams or on Twitter @ChrisSpags. You can contact Chris by emailing [email protected].

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